Alan Storm Alan Storm - 8 months ago 67
Bash Question

Getting Items on the Local Clipboard from a Remote SSH Session

Borderline ServerFault question, but I'm programming some shell scripts, so I'm trying here first :)

Most *nixes have a command that will let you pipe/redirect output to the local clipboard/pasteboard, and retrieve from same. On OS X these commands are

pbcopy, pbpaste


Is there anyway to replicate this functionality while SSHed into another server? That is,


  1. I'm using Computer A.

  2. I open a terminal window

  3. I SSH to Computer B

  4. I run a command on Computer B

  5. The output of Computer B is redirected or automatically copied to Computer A's clipboard.



And yes, I know I could just (shudder) use my mouse to select the text from the command, but I've gotten so used to the workflow of pipping output directly to the clipboard that I want the same for my remote sessions.

Code is useful, but general approaches are appreciated as well.

Answer Source

I'm resurrecting this thread because I've been looking for the same kind of solution, and I've found one that works for me. It's a minor modification to a suggestion from OSX Daily.

In my case, I use Terminal on my local OSX machine to connect to a linux server via SSH. Like the OP, I wanted to be able to transfer small bits of text from terminal to my local clipboard, using only the keyboard.

The essence of the solution:

commandThatMakesOutput | ssh desktop pbcopy

When run in an ssh session to a remote computer, this command takes the output of commandThatMakesOutput (e.g. ls, pwd) and pipes the output to the clipboard of the local computer (the name or IP of "desktop"). In other words, it uses nested ssh: you're connected to the remote computer via one ssh session, you execute the command there, and the remote computer connects to your desktop via a different ssh session and puts the text to your clipboard.

It requires your desktop to be configured as an ssh server (which I leave to you and google). It's much easier if you've set up ssh keys to facilitate fast ssh usage, preferably using a per-session passphrase, or whatever your security needs require.

Other examples:

ls  | ssh desktopIpAddress pbcopy
pwd |  ssh desktopIpAddress pbcopy

For convenience, I've created a bash file to shorten the text required after the pipe:

#!/bin/bash
ssh desktop pbcopy

In my case, i'm using a specially named key

I saved it with the file name cb (my mnemonic (ClipBoard). Put the script somewhere in your path, make it executable and voila:

ls | cb
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